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Ecce Homo

The Male-Body-in-Pain as Redemptive Figure

Ecce Homo

The Male-Body-in-Pain as Redemptive Figure

Images of suffering male bodies permeate Western culture, from Francis Bacon’s paintings and Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs to the battered heroes of action movies. Drawing on perspectives from a range of disciplines—including religious studies, gender and queer studies, psychoanalysis, art history, and film theory—Ecce Homo explores the complex, ambiguous meanings of the enduring figure of the male-body-in-pain.

Acknowledging that representations of men confronting violence and pain can reinforce ideas of manly tenacity, Kent L. Brintnall also argues that they reveal the vulnerability of men’s bodies and open them up to eroticization. Locating the roots of our cultural fascination with male pain in the crucifixion, he analyzes the way narratives of Christ’s death and resurrection both support and subvert cultural fantasies of masculine power and privilege. Through stimulating readings of works by Georges Bataille, Kaja Silverman, and more, Brintnall delineates the redemptive power of representations of male suffering and violence.

256 pages | 12 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2011

Art: Art Criticism

Disability Studies

Gay and Lesbian Studies

Religion: Christianity


“Imagine a book that treats religion and eroticism not as sworn enemies or cycling debaters, but as twin arts. A book for which images of sexed bodies are not records or replacements so much as devices of an ecstatic redemption. You have found that book. In it, Kent Brintnall retells the Christian saga of male suffering through Hollywood action films, Mapplethorpe’s most scandalous photographs, and the gurgling paintings of Francis Bacon. His guide is Bataille. His goal is a new self. His book wants to remake you.”

Mark D. Jordan, Harvard University

“I have seldom read an academic book as clearly and at times beautifully written as this one. Even when dealing with works of critical theory, Brintnall manages to write clearly without simplifying or sacrificing complexity. The work is in that sense a model for other academic writers. Furthermore, Brintnall has managed to wed religious studies, gender and queer studies, and contemporary cultural studies in a more successful way than most of the projects that recently have attempted such a union.”

Ken Stone, Chicago Theological Seminary

“In his prelude to Ecce Homo, Kent Brintnall writes that he has relied on Georges Bataille’s ‘method of pursuing doubleness, undecidability, and juxtaposition’ to explore the image of the suffering male body through contemporary variants on crucifixion imagery. This difficult reliance pays off superbly in a precisely balanced, consistently engaging work that crosses the personal with the theoretical, the familiar with the unexpected, and the aesthetic with the deeply ethical and political in an analysis that is as challenging as it is persuasive.”

Karmen MacKendrick, LeMoyne College

"Kent Brintnall’s Ecce Homo: The Male-Body-In-Pain as Redemptive Figure is a profoundly responsible reconciliation of art, religion, feminism, and queer studies. The work is seductive, beautiful, and at times forces the reader to pause in awe at the momentary loss of self invoked by the text. . . .To scholars and students of feminism, queer studies, masculinity studies, and gender studies this book provides an invaluable different approach to traditional issues explored in these fields."

Ilya Merlin | Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality

Table of Contents

List of figures

One     Suffering|Triumph
Two     Masochism|Masculinity
Three   Content|Form
Four    Crucifixion|Representation


Works Cited

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